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Is real estate investment trusts a good career?

Learn all about a career in real estate investment trusts (REIT) and decide if it’s the right path for you.

Are you on the hunt for a career path that's a little different? Maybe you've got an interest in property and are pretty savvy with finance. If that sounds like you, a career in real estate investment trusts, or REITs for short, could be right up your alley.

In simple terms, REITs are companies that own, operate, or finance properties generating income. This could be anything from towering office buildings to bustling shopping centers or cozy apartment complexes.

Throughout this article, we'll explore why a career in REITs could be a smart move, the different types of REITs you could work with, the roles you might fill, and the qualifications you might need.

We'll also take a peek into the future of REITs and chat about some of the challenges you might face along the way. Ready to find out if REITs are your next big thing? Let's dive in.

Why pursue a career in REIT?

Are you intrigued by the idea of a career that blends the tangible world of real estate with the analytical realm of finance?

If so, you might find that a career in real estate investment trusts (REITs) fits the bill perfectly. REITs offer a unique career path that's both rewarding and challenging, providing a fascinating intersection between the physical world of property and the intellectual rigor of financial management. Let's dive into the details.

Diversified real estate investments

With REITs, you're not just stuck with one property type. You could deal with shopping centers one day, apartment buildings the next, and then move on to warehouses or even hospitals.

It's an environment that keeps you on your toes and helps you build a broad skill set.

Property issue expertise

Working in REITs gives you the chance to become a whiz at property management. You'll get to tackle everything from tenant problems and maintenance issues to legal matters. It's a great way to level up your expertise.

Equity market appreciation

REITs are traded on the stock exchange, just like other publicly traded companies. So, a career in REITs can also mean learning the ropes of the equity market and having opportunities for wealth appreciation.

REIT types

REITs can fall into three main types of real estate investment: Equity, Mortgage, and Hybrid. Let’s take a closer look.


Equity REITs are big players in real estate. They’re like super-landlords who own and manage income-generating properties like malls, offices, apartments, and warehouses.

Their main task is to lease out these properties to tenants who pay rent, which is their main source of income.

Equity REITs offer high-paying careers in property management, leasing, investment analysis, and asset management. These roles aim to keep the properties profitable.


Mortgage REITs are a different beast in the real estate jungle. Instead of playing the role of the landlord, they act more like the bank. They finance real estate owners or invest in mortgages or mortgage-backed securities.

A real estate developer planning to build a new housing project can get financing from a Mortgage REIT. The Mortgage REIT gives you the money needed to start your project, and they earn income from the loan’s interest in return. This benefits both the developer and the Mortgage REIT.

A career in Mortgage REITs is suitable for those interested in real estate finance and risk management. Real estate experts assess the viability of properties they finance — a role requiring a sharp eye for potential risks and returns.

But don't think Mortgage REITs are just for finance whizzes. They also need real estate experts to assess the viability of the properties they're financing. Real estate agents and other property professionals with knowledge of the property market can be invaluable in helping the Mortgage REIT make wise investment decisions.


Hybrid REITs are a bit like the jack-of-all-trades in the real estate investment trusts industry. They own income-producing properties like offices or health care facilities and invest in mortgage loans to earn interest. They do both to make more profit.

Imagine a Hybrid REIT as a business owning a string of office buildings in booming cities. They collect rental income from businesses using their spaces, just like an Equity REIT. They also lend money to hospitals for expansion plans and earn interest on the loan, like a Mortgage REIT.

This dual approach gives Hybrid REIT companies an interesting edge and allows them to balance steady rental income with potentially high returns from mortgage investments — attractive when interest rates are favorable.

A career in Hybrid REITs is a great way to gain broad exposure to the real estate industry. You'll learn about property management and real estate financing, including interpreting financial statements, a must-have skill in this field.

Choosing the best REIT job

There's a whole host of job opportunities within the REIT industry. Think of it like a big umbrella under which many types of jobs can fall. Let's check out some of the best-paying jobs in real estate investment trusts.

Property manager

As a property manager, you're the one keeping an eye on the daily goings-on at a property. This could involve everything from dealing with tenants to sorting maintenance.

Median salary: $59,230

REIT analyst

A REIT analyst is the person with their finger on the pulse, studying market trends and economic conditions to provide advice on investment decisions.

Median salary: $92,158

Financial analyst

A financial analyst’s role in a REIT is to evaluate the financial health of the trust, craft financial models, and assist in strategic decision-making.

Median salary: $95,570

Investor relations manager

As an investor relations manager, you're the point of contact for shareholders, potential investors, and financial analysts to ensure everyone's in the loop.

Median salary: $145,338

Property developer

Property developers are the visionaries who plan and oversee building projects, turning empty lots into commercial properties or residential homes.

Median salary: $58,863

Property development manager

A property development manager takes charge of the development process, ensuring everything from the planning stage to completion runs smoothly.

Average salary: $95,828

Portfolio manager

Also known as an asset manager, a portfolio manager keeps a close eye on the performance of a REIT's property portfolio to ensure it generates income and meets investment goals.

Median salary: $114,200

Real estate property appraiser

A real estate property appraiser is a pro at figuring out how much properties are worth, whether for sale, purchase, or tax purposes. This role requires a solid understanding of the real estate market and specific appraisal certifications.

Average salary: $80,460

Acquisition analyst

An acquisition analyst helps a REIT grow its portfolio by assessing potential property acquisitions, crunching numbers, and weighing potential risks and returns.

Average salary: $74,785


Like any business, REITs need accountants. A REIT accountant might handle incoming payments as an accounts receivable manager or take care of outgoing payments as an accounts payable manager.

Median salary: $77,250

Education requirements

While some jobs in REITs require specific degrees or certifications, many are entry-level opportunities.

Most roles will benefit from a real estate, business, or finance background. So, someone fresh out of college with a bachelor's degree in one of these areas could be in a good position to start a career in REITs.

Industry outlook

Looking ahead, the future of REITs seems pretty bright. The industry is expected to continue growing, driven by trends like urbanization, changing demographics, and technological advancements.

However, like any investment opportunity, it's also subject to market fluctuations and regulation changes.


While a career in REITs can be incredibly rewarding, it's not without its challenges. Here's a closer look at some of the hurdles you might come across:

  • Market volatility. If there's one thing you can count on in the real estate business, it's that the market will fluctuate. Prices can skyrocket one season only to plummet the next. This can be a tough pill to swallow, especially for those who prefer predictability and stability in their careers. To navigate these ups and downs, you'll need a stomach for risk and the ability to make sound decisions even under pressure.
  • Complex financial structures. REIT assets aren't just simple pieces of property — they're part of intricate financial systems encompassing elements of real estate law, finance, and taxation. Understanding these complexities can take time and may feel overwhelming, especially in the beginning. But with experience and continuous learning, you'll start to get the hang of it.
  • Keeping up with regulations. You'll need to stay updated on the latest changes in everything from tax laws to securities regulations and property laws. This requires a commitment to ongoing professional development and a keen interest in staying informed about industry trends and updates.
  • Years of experience required. Many roles within REITs require years of experience in related fields. This means you may need to work your way up, gaining practical experience and knowledge over time. While this can be a rewarding journey, it's worth noting that a career in REITs may not be an instant path to high-level roles.

That said, many people find the rewards of a REIT career outweigh these challenges. Working at the intersection of real estate and finance can be a truly satisfying career path for those up to the challenge.

Just remember to weigh these challenges against the potential rewards when considering if this is the right career choice for you.

Is a career in REIT right for you?

A career in REITs offers a unique mix of real estate and financial management. It could be the perfect career choice if you're passionate about real estate, love crunching numbers, and enjoy a challenge.

Consider the roles available, skills and qualifications you might need, and potential ups and downs before jumping in. After all, it's a big decision, and you want to ensure it's the right career option for you.

Start your career search on Handshake

We recommend checking out Handshake to jumpstart your career search in REITs. Our platform connects students and recent graduates with top employers in the industry, making it an excellent resource for finding job and internship opportunities.

With a range of roles available, from leasing agents to investment analysts, Handshake can help you find the right fit for your skills and career goals in the exciting and dynamic field of REITs.

So why not start exploring today?


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